Changes to visas and internship opportunities in China

Traditionally in China, international students have been unable to work during their studies, and people have been unable to get a visa to work in China without at least two years of post-study work experience overseas, making it impossible for international students to transition to a working visa at the completion of their studies.
With China looking to develop its international education market, the Chinese government has been introducing a number of pilot changes to make studying in China more attractive, and to allow talented individuals to stay on in China in certain areas.
Last year, Shanghai, one of the education innovators, implemented a pilot policy that enables international students who have graduated from a Chinese university to apply to switch their visa to a Personnel Affairs Resident Permit to undertake internships or to invest in or start their own business in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone or the Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone for up to two years after graduation.
In March this year, the Ministry of Public Security implemented new policies to support the innovation and development of Beijing. Among these new policies, foreign students currently studying outside of China can now be invited by enterprises in Beijing’s vast Zhongguancun Science Park to undertake internship programs for less than six months (under a short-term Personnel Affairs Resident Permit), and foreign students recommended by their host universities in Beijing can take part-time jobs with companies in the park or become involved in entrepreneurship in the area, where they get an annotation of Entrepreneurship added to their study visa.  Zhongguancun has traditionally been a testing ground for new innovation policies before these are rolled out more broadly.
Also in April this year, the China Service Center for Scholarly Exchange (the CSCSE) and the Peking University Office of International Relations and Student Career Center co-organized the first job fair for foreign students in China in the Zhongguancun Science Park, to promote the new opportunities in Beijing.
While all three of these changes to visa policies and internship opportunities are quite small and specifically targeted, they are positive signs that the Chinese government is considering opening up more broadly opportunities for international students to undertake part-time work or internships during their studies in China and to allow international students to work in China upon graduation.
For further enquiries, please contact Mr Christopher Lawson, First Secretary (Education and Research), Australian Embassy in Beijing.